Examining the decision by the Independent Regulatory Commission finding John Terry breached FA Rule E3[2]

I had given some thought as to whether or not to write this post, but seeing as I had already written two previous posts following the incident between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand I thought it best to write what will hopefully be the last post on the subject.

So today an Independent Regulatory Commission found a charge of misconduct against John Terry following abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand and which included a reference to colour and/or race contrary to FA Rule E3[2] in relation to the Queens Park Rangers FC versus Chelsea FC fixture at Loftus Road on 23 October 2011. The Chelsea captain has been banned for four matches and fined £220,000, pending appeal, for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. The FA’s statement on the matter can be found here.

A spokesman for Terry said the player was “disappointed” the FA had reached a “different conclusion” to the “not guilty verdict of a court of law”. I can appreciate that Terry may feel disappointed that the FA have reached their conclusion following his acquittal in the criminal matter but as I have stated in my two previous posts concerning this matter, the criminal proceeding has no bearing on the FA’s hearing. There are different burdens of proof and he and his legal team were fully aware of them so for him to make this statement just seems to be a PR attempt to muddy the water.

Twitter and Facebook have immediately become awash with questions, the most prominent of which is why the Terry ban is so much less than that applied to Luis Suarez last year following his incident with Evra. We can only wait for the Independent Regulatory Commission’s written judgment, which should explain the difference. However, at the time the IRC panel stated that simply using racist language was enough to constitute a breach of FA rules. As the knowledgable David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) points out the, “Defence which Terry (successfully) ran to defeat criminal charge (i.e. admitting saying it) meant proof on civil standard almost inevitable.”

As the BBC’s Dan Roan states “Terry must now live with that stigma, the ignominy of a ban. It’s not a career-ending ban, but it will be interesting to see what Chelsea do. Will they suspend him, drop him or back him? The club has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism.”

No doubt Chelsea fans will feel angry and disappointed with the outcome along with Terry, as equally so as Ferdinand and QPR fans were at Terry’s acquittal in July. Back then I advised that we must respect the rules of evidence and the burden of proof that led to the Court’s finding. I do the same here now with the IRC’s judgment. Of course Terry has the right to appeal within 14 days from receipt of the written reasons for the decision, however, one must feel that this has been an incredibly uncomfortable incident for the sport and dragging the matter out further may not serve Terry, Chelsea, or indeed the sport of Football any good.

Of course should he appeal I can always look forward to writing a fourth post…

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the writer and this article does not constitute legal advice.